At the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in October 2011–an event that proved to be one of the highlights of my writing life–I met Loren C. Gruber, a professor who knew literature so well that his speech flowed deep and rich with allusions, a witty man skilled in the art of the well-turned phrase. He is an instructor at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. This past March, when I visited and spoke at the school, I found the students had a deep respect for their instructor. He is personable, funny, and though hard-line in his expectations, he manages to motivate his students to produce excellent work. There is much I could write about him, but what really caught my attention is the fact he is known as the Muskie Professor. One evening over supper and drinks, we talked about his obsession with muskies and I thought a blog entry on his passion would be very appropriate. His personal slogan is: May All Your Mornings Be Muskie Mornings!
Here is his own testimony about his passion for and experience with muskie fishing:
LOREN: I began fishing for muskies in 1953 on Lake Winnebigoshish, Minnesota, with my father. He had lived in Motley, Minnesota, for a few years while his father served the Methodist Episcopal Church there as its minister. We then began fishing for muskies on nearby Cass Lake in 1954, and fished Leech Lake on and off, as well. I fished Pymatuning Reservoir in Pennsylvania probably in 1965 when I taught at Grove City College. Since I’ve moved to Missouri, I also fish for these toothy critters at Pomme de Terre. I’m a Life Member Muskies, Inc., having joined one of the earliest-formed chapters at Pomme de Terre. I’ve guided muskie fishermen as a summer-time job until last year. That’s when the Coast Guard issued the requirement that all inland water fishing guides be licensed as captains. I’m about to begin studying for my license. Four about the past six years, I have provided design ideas to Paul Jensen, sole proprietor of Jensen Jigs. I am his chief field tester for Jensen Jigs Musky Clatterbaits, and so far, his designs out-catch the major brands. Three of my design ideas at the Cass Lake Cisco, a walleye pattern, and a perch pattern (with a Cass Lake variation). I am a frequent contributor to KMMO’s “In the Outdoors with Brad and Brian,” here in Marshall. The station’s signal covers roughly the upper third of Missour, with listeners as far south as Warsaw. Brian Sowers, the morning show host, dubbed me “The Muskie Professor,” so that is my brand. Fishing for muskies involves a lot of study and fine tuning. I’ve discovered that having a GPS structure map and an excellent sonar help me locate the habitat and muskies themselves, but weather, water conditions, conditioning against certain bait patterns, and fishing pressure challenge those of us who are obsessive enough to pursue these elusive, intelligent creatures. Muskies are like elephants insofar as they are prized by fishermen, but I no longer care if I boat a muskie: they are fragile and easily stressed to the point that they will not survive a catch-and-release. Many people mishandle them, which further diminishes the chance that they will survive. 48” is now the *mimimum* legal limit. In 1953, the minimum size was either 30 or 36 inches.
Gruber has an excellent website here: In addition to his encyclopedic knowledge of the species, on his website he provides guide services for those who have dreamed of catching a trophy muskie, he provides tips to muskie fishing success (I learned they are not the easiest fish in the world to catch), there are testimonials, and he has tested muskie lures and has the test results posted there. He also has a radio program on KMMO-FM and www.kmmo.com on Sundays. 7-8 p.m. Central time.
Here’s a picture of the Muskie Professor (bearded one on left)!
Here’s a photo of Loren, with Tessa, a graduate student and friend of mine at Missouri Valley College where Loren teaches English.